Faith evidently plays a significant part in psychotherapy. Whatever school one follows, the 'therapeutic alliance' is important. In some forms of therapy it is virtully the be-al-and-end-all of the work. Such an alliance rests upon the faith that the client has in the therapist and this substantially reflects the faith the the therapist has in the client. In fact, therapy substantially consists in a relationship in which the therapist has faith in the client, often in ways and to a degree that the client himself does not have.

When we say 'has faith in the client' we are referring to the client in his life. A person is always situated. All the ordinary aspects of life are conditional. In practice, therefore, this means that the faith that the therapist has in the client is a faith that the client can cope with the circumstances that are arising for him, no matter how extreme of grievous they may be. This is what is sometimes called 'unconditional positive regard'. In order for this faith to have credibility, the therapist must enter into the life of the client to such an extent that she has an easy familiarity with and feeling for the 'world' of the client. In effect, therefore, the work is quite object related. The therapist 'stands alongside the client' as the client goes forth into his life.

However, from a spiritual point of view it is worth distinguishing between ordinary circumstance and eternal things. When we talk of anshin we are not just talking about ordinary confidence. We are talking about a faith that transcends the ordinary. In reality, only such a faith can really be 'unconditional'. In practice, ordinary human beings such as ourselves are not totally unconditional. However, if we life a spiritual life we do have confidence in something beyond, something that, perhaps, remains mysterious to us, but, nonetheless, we regard as ultimately, not merely circumstantially, reliable. This is what is called taking refuge.

So it is because the therapist takes refuge that she is able to provide unconditional support. This does not mean that she will be perfect in every response or accomplish some amazing ideal. It means, rather, that there is something deep within the meeting that cannot be explained in ordinary ways.

These two levels refer to what in Buddhism is sometimes called 'the two truths' which are 'relative truth' and 'absolute truth'. This is not really a philosophical notion, it is more an experience. The two levels do interact. It is her faith in the transcendent refuge that enables the therapist to let go to a sufficient degree and really enter into the client's 'relative world" and it is because she can and does do so that the client subliminally picks up that there is something more than just ordinary 'relative' confidence operating here. In the best case this results in the client also finding a refuge that transcends ordinary life circumstance. When this happens, therapy and spirituality merge. In lesser cases, the therapist's faith in the holding power of refuge is sufficient to give the client ordinary confidence so that he goes through whatever life trial it is in a way that brings him to growth and constructive change rather than defeat.

In either case, the client emerges with more faith than he had before. He might or might not have words for this, might or might not have a spiritual practice of his own. If he does, then he will have a vocabulary for talking about such things. However, even if he does not, still the increase in faith operating in his life will be an asset that will benefit him in many ways, not just in the matter discussed in therapy, but in all dimensions of life.

Note: I have referred to the therapist as 'she' and the client as 'he' for simplicity and clarity, but the principles apply whatever the gender of each party.

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Study Group.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on July 18, 2017 at 22:41 1 Comment

We just had a study group meeting at Amida Mandala Temple. Only three of us but a very rich hour. Predictably we came round to the issue of ‘is one Nembutsu enough?’ My understanding: In a sense it is, because when we call Amida we become one with his vow and the Pure Land and thus we are saved. In another sense we have to keep calling him so that he can keep saving us. As if we’re all lost in a thick fog and Amida is a few steps ahead of us illuminating the way, we have to keep him in sight…

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SIMPOSIUM AT OASIS

Posted by David Brazier on July 11, 2017 at 15:30 0 Comments

On 8th July we had a meeting of six teachers at Oasis together with many visitors.

Pictures: Here

Each of the teachers gave a presentation on what they considered most significant in their practice. Then there was an extended lunch period for socialising and, finally a sessions of questions and answers.…

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Feeding the Wolves of Desire.

Posted by Adam Dunsby on July 10, 2017 at 11:30 1 Comment

 

I remembered a teaching from Dharmavidya…

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Wasted

Posted by Andrew on July 10, 2017 at 0:00 7 Comments

My sons childhood friend was brutally murdered on Friday night. It is hard to believe that it happened. As he left a Birmingham pub a number of young people surrounded him. One of them stabbed him in the heart and he bled to death. He was twenty six years old. I can't get it out of my thoughts, why would any one be that cruel. Why as humans do we do this to each other. I've spent most of the weekend comforting my son, he went on Holliday with Daniel the friend that lost his life, two weeks…

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